This blog is part of a 3 part series, go here to read the first article, and here to read the third article.
Being at COP27 was an incredible experience in so many ways. From witnessing global leaders engaging in important conversations, to watching demonstrations from climate activists in solidarity for climate justice, to living across two different time zones at the same time – it went by so quickly! While COP27 is over, our work is really just beginning in sharing the lessons learned and next steps from here. Faith-based organizations present at COP27 brought a powerful moral accountability to a conference that is heavy on policy, politics, and the powerful. Big polluters warm our world, cut our trees, and vanquish our futures in the names of the gods of wealth, greed, and power. They must be held accountable.
Many significant things happened during COP27, here’s a summary of a few that stood out particularly to me:
- Commitments from the United States (link to report)
- Set an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030
- Set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035
- Made promises to invest in transportation, construction, carbon capture incentives, and agriculture.
- Establishment of a loss and damage fund
- A historic win that secures funds for countries historically stripped of resource and experiencing the devastation of intensified weather patterns and climate change
- This win was thanks to the tireless advocacy of environmental justice activists, including from faith communities
- We are still waiting to see what mechanisms will be employed to distribute these resources
- Lack of significant progress on ambition
- We still need a commitment to the complete phasing out of fossil fuels and increased acceleration
- It is unclear how we will meet the goals promised in the Paris Agreement
- We saw more fossil fuel delegates than ever at this COP
- We need to pay attention to the gendered impacts of climate change, and ensure representation of young, women, and gender non-conforming people in decision-making processes
My heart is heavy that these conversations are so slow-moving when we are running out of time. Heavy at the recalcitrance of wealthy nations to center environmental justice. Heavy that those who will suffer most from climate inaction continue to be a political bargaining chip, instead of a moral responsibility. However, this experience also left me feeling hopeful. Hopeful because I witnessed how a groups of strangers came together to form powerful voices speaking truth on a global stage. Hopeful because with all its flaws COP27 does provide the opportunity for facilitated conversation and unique partnerships that do better our world. Hopeful at the witness of young people, leading conversations and demanding accountability and justice. Hopeful because my faith does not lie exclusively in decision-making bodies, but in the collective power of us, activated by love. Our various traditions invite us to imagine how we participate in this world, love this world, and care for this world. These efforts are never wasted – for we are transformed in the doing, in the process, in the loving, into the kind of people that truly can heal the world.
Many times over the past two weeks, I’ve returned to the happy memory of my childhood – standing in the mud at the river bank, water lapping gently at my feet. The feeling of my body connecting me to a wild network of ecosystems, intricate workings of which I had no clue. Yet I knew this to be true – this system supported me. It was a sacred place. And it still is, motivating me to work alongside each of you as we seek a faithful response to climate change.
Go here to learn more about National IPL and the faith voice at COP27: https://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/?s=cop27
This blog was written by PA IPL Executive Director, Katie Ruth. Katie was part of a hybrid delegation to COP27, representing the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Espicopal Church. Views shared here do not necessarily reflect those of the delegation or Episcopal Church.